Hey everyone, I JUST got my Thing-o-matic put together and after one long print I was having all sorts of issues with keeping the filament playing nicely with the extruder. I would constantly have dread in my heart whenever I heard a coil of plastic unspool loudly. But, everything was going well and I was kickin' back a few brews watching some Netflix when...
The worst thing ever happened. My filament snapped. I tried to melt the ends together, but the extruder just ripped them apart, so I cancelled the print. The next part was terrible, I tried to get out the old filament, but it was past the extruder gear so I couldn't. Then I tried to feed in new filament to push out the old stuff, but it kept getting stuck and kinked. Finally, I had to sit there and feed in the filament through the control panel until I was sure that if I started a build it wouldn't kink.
The solution? GO TO TARGET! AND THEN LOWE'S!
Step 1: Find a Spinny Thing.
So I remembered on the Makerbot website they sold a fancy kit that had a filament guide and holding box to sit underneath your Thing-o-matic. Well, that was $99 and I was still recovering from the price of the kit!
I boiled it down to a few basic parts:
1. Lazy Susan
2. Guide tube
3. Stiff anchor between Lazy Susan and guide tube
As you see here, Target sell's a 10" lazy susan for about $6. The diameter of the filament spool is about 8". Close enough for government work!
So far so good.
Step 2: Find a Guide-thing.
So I wanted to make a really simple and disassemble-able guide system such that I could pack it up and away really easily without worrying about if it would break or not. Also important is the parts taking up as little room as possible.
My first step was to find a $3ish L-bracket from Lowe's. Why? Because I knew I could fix the bracket to the underside of the Lazy Susan without interfering in its operation and the other part of the bracket would already have a hole at the right height to feed the filament! Having the guide tube be fixed to the rotating platform is essential to the proper operation of the filament guide.
My second step was to find polyvinyl tubing, just like I had seen used in countless other examples of filament guides. This stuff was $0.16 a foot, so I just bought 6' even though I ended up using only 3'.
My third step was joining the two. I realized the diameter of the tubing was smaller than the hole in the L-bracket. That's good though, it allows me to take out the tubing very easily. However, what was I going to do to fix it in place during operation but still allow disassembly? I ended up heating the tube evenly using a lighter, and then sticking a mechanical pencil tip in to flange the tube. As you can see, it ended up being a perfect fit into the countersunk hole in the L-bracket and allows me to slide the tube out without any issues.
Above I show the 4" L-bracket I got from Lowe's, as well as the 3' length of 1/4 OD polyvinyl tubing already mated. Sorry I didn't take any before photos!
Step 3: Fit Spinny-thing and Guide-thing Together.
So, like I said, I wanted a simple mounting system. What's simpler than duct tape?!
First, get an idea for the width of the bracket, and then cut out a corresponding opening on the bottom of the Lazy Susan stationary ring. I did this by clipping each end of the opening, and then slowly ripping out the inbetween material withneedle-nose pliers.
Second, file it down. Don't use a rat-tail file like I did! It looks like crap! But it's all I had!
Third, apply duct tape to make bracket to the stationary ring such that the bracket is a few inches outside the rotating base. If it's too close, the filament won't have a good path to follow.,
Step 4: Put It All Together!
Alright, now put the Lazy Susan on a flat surface and lay down the filament spool on top. Run the filament through the polyvinyl tubing and orient the whole mess such that a nice path for the filament presents itself.
As you can see, mine is actually pointing away from the extruder, but that was the best way to get a smooth transition. Also, the tubing isn't fully seated in the countersunk hole in the L-bracket. Since it's free to slide, it just did it's own thing.
It doesn't look the best, but a little paint could spruce that up really quickly! It cost me $10 and 10-minutes to build, and I just wanted to share it so that others could be pointed in the right direction for their own solutions.
Thanks for reading, this Instructable's my first!